Unpacking My Life as a Black Beneficiary of White Privilege, (Part 1)

A story about finding my biological family and discovering my truth.

Ian Greenfield


Photo by Kelly Searle on Unsplash

I often wonder what my life would be like had I not been adopted as a baby. Would I have the same taste in music? Would I be as driven as I am today? Would I still have this damn lisp?

There has long been debate over what truly shapes a person’s behavior — genetics or the environment in which they’re raised. It’s an interesting thought experiment and one particularly relevant to current events. In 2020 America, is the issue a difference in skin color, or culture. In other words, is the system rigged against Black skin or Blackness?

Amidst the wave of awakening sweeping the nation, what better way to search for answers than unpack my life up to this point. As the Black child of two White parents had my childhood been touched by systemic racism or had I escaped into the White world of picket fences and the American Dream.

Thank God For Facebook

Around the time I turned 12 years old, I began taking a profound interest in my biological family. My parents kept a large folder containing my adoption records in a file cabinet in our home office. While browsing through documents one day, I stumbled upon something that piqued my interest — a piece of paper listing the names of my biological parents and siblings. It wasn’t much, but it finally allowed me to humanize the family that left me behind.

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On a whim, I decided to look up who I knew to be my oldest sister on Facebook. Armed with her name and a general location, I went to work.

Scrolling through the search page, a host of White girls populated the top results.


Finally, about 10 results down, I hit someone promising. Right name, right location, and most importantly…right skin tone. Her profile was private, meaning I couldn’t cross-reference her friends' list for any of the other names on my list. Nevertheless, something about her seemed right.

So I messaged her…



Ian Greenfield

Nashville, TN. Founder @ Shockmouse Media, a better website and design solution.